Someone asked the question on one of the LinkedIn groups I joined recently:
“Do you network at events to find new clients?”
I thought I would share my thoughts with you here as well.
Any way you can meet and interact with prospects is certainly good.
That doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be done in-person or locally.
And you want to consider that some methods are more fruitful and productive and less costly to the business to engage in than others.
I occasionally go to a live/local event just for the fun of it, to get out of the office (my house, lol) and meet new people or learn new things.
The human interaction is nice and I believe getting in some local networking helps keep our interpersonal skills honed.
It’s a nice change of pace; however, my primary business marketing and networking is done online.
(Likewise, I only conduct consultations over the phone.)
Relying entirely on in-person meetings and networking is a very expensive prospect. And I’m not talking about admission fees.
Any time you have to leave the office, the cost to the business of that personal time triples.
That’s because in a solopreneur business like ours where we are the business, we are the craftsman, that personal time away is time away from other clients, other work and other opportunities.
So it’s a more expensive proposition compared to online networking.
You can meet, connect, interact with and get in front of vastly more people and potential clients using online methods because it’s a one-to-many ratio that doesn’t require your personal presence outside your office.
You can meet ten times more people online in less time than it takes you to meet with one person locally.
And because it’s online, your prospect pool is not limited to your local geographic location.
Not that you shouldn’t ever leave your home/office, lol. You just want to be discerning and strategic about where and how you spend your in-person time.
Here’s how I would mix it up:
Focus first and perhaps more predominately on developing your online marketing and networking. Eventually, you’ll have it all set-up to where a large part of it can be automated and you can dedicate a small, but useful, bit of time each day to give it your personal attention.
That then will afford you more time to fit in the occasional live/local business event and networking.
This way, you have the best of both worlds and your business doesn’t have to rely exclusively on live/local attendance, which takes far longer, is more costly due to the time involved away from the business, and the more limited scope of reach and connection.
The other thing I wanted to mention about in-person/local networking, don’t turn it into a sales spiel where you corner one person after another and shove your business card in their hands or force them to listen to your “elevator pitch.”
No one likes a salesman/saleswoman. And no one wants you looking at them like they’re your next possible meal.
Go to these events without any agenda or attachment to outcomes except to make new friends. That’s it.
I’m telling you, you will create far more meaningful business connections and real relationships with people when you go about things with that mindset.
So don’t go there to sell. Go there to meet and talk and most importantly ask questions about other people and their businesses.
Because the most interesting person in the room to others is the one who is interested in them. 😉
The paradox of this is that because you engage your curiosity about them, they’re going to be all the more interested in you and what you do.
Then, instead of a business card, you come equipped and give them a gift. 😉